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Keywords:

  • Australia;
  • carers;
  • consumers;
  • mental health services;
  • nurses;
  • participation

ABSTRACT:  Increasingly, Australian government policy advances an expectation that consumer and carer participation will be present in all aspects of mental health service delivery. A review of the literature suggests that consumers and carers actively seek the opportunity to participate but are frequently hampered by barriers. However, government policy documents tend to discuss consumers and carers with regards to participation as though their needs and desires are essentially similar. This paper presents the findings of a qualitative research project involving in-depth interviews with carers and mental health nurses. The issue of conflict between the issues for consumers and carers emerged as a major theme. This issue is explored and discussed in light of the goals of current mental health policy. It is concluded that conflicting agendas are apparent and must be addressed if genuine participation in service delivery is possible for both consumers and carers.